NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, December 7, 2011

From Anne Gearan and Slobodan Lekic, the AP:  Russian countermeasures to NATO’s ballistic missile defense system would be a waste of money because they would be aimed at an "artificial enemy," NATO’s top official said Wednesday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened last month to deploy missiles to Kaliningrad and other areas of Russia to be aimed at U.S. and NATO missile defense sites in Europe, unless a deal is reached assuaging Russian concerns.

Although NATO says it needs the system to defend from possible threats from the Middle East and that it can’t pose a threat to Russia’s own nuclear deterrent, Moscow sees the plans as a security challenge.

"Russia and NATO … have a shared interest to protect our populations against a real missile threat, and it would definitely be a waste of valuable money if Russia started to invest heavily in countermeasures against an artificial enemy that doesn’t exist," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen said he hoped the contentious issue could be resolved before a summit between NATO and Russia in Chicago next May.

He was speaking ahead of a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers that will review progress in Afghanistan, plans for the missile defense system, and troubles in Kosovo.  (photo: NATO)